Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to popular questions about the services we provide and how drones work

Are drones safe?

Drones, like anything else are mechanical objects, and as such can malfunction. However, modern technology means that multiple safety features are built within the units such as obstacle avoidance, visual indicators and secure battery placements. So, as long as they are operated within the guidelines as defined by the manufacturer, then you shouldn’t have a problem.

Do you need a licence to fly?

This depends on what you have and how you intend to use it. Any Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or drone for short that is under 250g currently does not require any formal licence. For any unit that is over this weight then the bare minimum required is registration of the unit with the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Online training courses and theory exams, along with practical exams are always a good idea to have, as this will improve your knowledge and ability to fly safely and responsibly. If you wish to operate a commercial venture, then you need to obtain a specific licence known as a PfCO (Permission to Fly for Commercial Operation). However, the rules for this are changing on the 31st December 2020.

Do you need insurance?

As like driving a car, there are various types of insurance. Cover for hobbyists can start as little as £20 per year with up to £5 Million pounds worth of protection.

Are you spying on people?

No. It’s often a misconception by members of the public that drones are being used to spy on them. Under current guidelines, an operator must not fly their drone any closer than 50m to a group of people, or 150m from large crowds and buildings. To put that into context, this is what the operator sees on their screen at the distance, shown on the two images below.

Southern Aerial Surveys
A woman wearing red stands in an area of land (centre of image). This picture was taken at 25m high.

Southern Aerial Surveys
This picture was taken at 50m high. Here, you can just make out the operator with a black carry case standing on the grass, in-between the red and silver cars.

What can you see?

Drone operators the world over love panorama’s, and often compete for that “all elusive” perfect shot. Whether it’s a beautiful sunset, a series of jagged mountains or even a flowing river, getting a bird’s eye view of the world can be quite magical.

Southern Aerial Surveys

Are there any types of aerial survey you do not cover?

Here at Southern Aerial Surveys we take high quality & timely drone site surveys, providing aerial photos and videos for planning and inspection in the following areas.

Archaeological sites of interest
Golf Courses
Stately Homes and Gardens
Outdoor events

We can also offer Thermal Imaging pictures and video for special projects. Please message us with your enquiry for further details.

Areas that we currently are unable to cover are...

Topographical Surveys
Telecoms Site Surveys
Overhead Power Line Surveys

What’s the difference between Pilot and Operator?

Put simply, a Pilot fly’s planes, an Operator fly’s drones.

How far can the drone travel?

Modern UAV’s (Drones) can fly quite a distance such as up to five miles away. However, as an operator under current UK guidelines you are not permitted to travel any further than 500m (1500ft) in distance from your control point. Nor can you go over 120m high (400ft) from the surface of the ground.

What happens if you lose control?

Of course, we all hope that this never happens, but accidents can occur, although thankfully they are rare. Modern drone systems have multiple fail safes built within them such as auto sensing when they lose connection with the controller and an RTH (Return To Home) function. A good operator will always carry out basic maintenance checks before and after each flight to ensure their unit is in a worthy condition.

Is it an expensive venture?

It can be if you want to get into it in a big way. A decent second-hand unit however, depending on the make and model should not cost more than a few hundred pounds. This would give you a great start into the world of drone usage and a bird’s eye view on the world.

David Walker, Southern Aerial Surveys - Member of Drone Safe Register
David Walker, Southern Aerial Surveys - Member of DroneSAR for Lost Dogs UK
David Walker, Southern Aerial Surveys - DroneSafe Qualified Legal Drone Pilot